How do you tell someone they’re facing redundancy?

Redundancy is not a funny topic. However what is funny how often we hear people say it was the best thing that ever happened to them during one of our job change workshops or outplacement coaching.

We’ve also personally said it ourselves when we were made redundant (a number of times) during previous recessions and restructurings. In the beginning, a lost job can feel like a bereavement.

So, what if you are the person who has to tell someone else they are being made redundant? Is it giving you sleepless nights, never mind them?

9 Top tips for having difficult conversations

Tip 1

Get up to speed with the organisation’s redundancy policy/procedure and/or talk to HR experts in this field. In the actual conversation state the facts initially before asking them about thoughts and emotions. Then LISTEN!

Tip 2

Write everything down. It helps your memory if you are doing a lot of these conversations and is also good practise in case there is any come back later.

Tip 3

If you are responsible for others who will also have to have these conversations make sure they are trained in handling redundancy conversations and are given support on the difficult emotional aspects and typical scenarios they may face. Mediation training may also help with any conflict that occurs.

Tip 4

Consider offering some sort of training or outplacement support for people being made redundant. This is good practise for employee welfare, creates a focus for them and lessens emotional impact.

Tip 5

Ensure you also talk to people ‘not at risk’ as they may want put themselves forward for redundancy or suggest other options like job share, sabbaticals, part time working, early retirement etc.

Tip 6

Research suggests that “survivor syndrome” is a real issue and can affect performance. Team morale may also be affected and people feel under pressure to work harder with less resources. Conflict may also surface. So give support and training to those who remain after redundancies are completed.

Tip 7

Make lots of time for this. Don’t underestimate the emotional response of people in all categories. Try to time it near the end of the day so employees can go home (no facing colleagues with tear-stained faces). Be prepared to reconvene at another time if employees are very upset.

Tip 8

Keep communicating even when there is nothing to communicate especially through long consultation periods. People will fill a vacuum with circulating rumours

Tip 9

Be sensitive when discussing future plans that do not involve people who are leaving. No one wants to hear who will be taking over their desk or what will happen to all their work/bits and pieces after they have gone!

The tips will go some way to help you with this difficult task, but if you need further advice about handling difficult conversations such as redundancy or poor performance issues then contact me.

We can tailor a variety of options for you and your organisation including one to one coaching and mentoring or workshops such as “Talking When the Stakes are High”.

Support for staff through redundancy, change or conflict

In these circumstances contact me for details of our one to one outplacement support or our one day workshop on “Job Change in a Changing World”.



8 years ago : Nov 24, 2013

By Julia Menaul